Federal Court Restores Gray Wolf’s Endangered Species Act Protection
OAKLAND, Calif.— A federal judge today restored protection to gray wolves, reversing a Trump-era rule that removed Endangered Species Act protection from the animals across most of the country. Today’s ruling prohibits wolf hunting and trapping in states outside of the northern Rocky Mountains.
“This is a huge win for gray wolves and the many people across the country who care so deeply about them,” said Collette Adkins, carnivore conservation director at the Center for Biological Diversity. “I hope this ruling finally convinces the Fish and Wildlife Service to abandon its longstanding, misguided efforts to remove federal wolf protections. The agency should work instead to restore these ecologically important top carnivores to places like the southern Rockies and northeastern United States.”
In his 26-page ruling, U.S. District Judge Jeffery White wrote: “the Service’s analysis relied on two core wolf populations to delist wolves nationally and failed to provide a reasonable interpretation of the ‘significant portion of its range’ standard.” He therefore set aside the delisting rule and restored wolf protections in the Great Lakes region, West Coast states and southern Rocky Mountains.
“Again and again, we’ve had to take the fight for wolves to the courts,” said Adkins. “I’m relieved that the court set things right but saddened that hundreds of wolves suffered and died under this illegal delisting rule. It will take years to undo the damage done to wolf populations.”
Today’s win is the result of a lawsuit brought by Earthjustice on behalf of the Center for Biological Diversity, Defenders of Wildlife, the Humane Society of the United States, Sierra Club, National Parks Conservation Association and Oregon Wild.
The court ruling does not restore protection to wolves in the northern Rockies, as wolves in that region lost their protection prior to the delisting rule challenged in this case. However, in response to an emergency petition from the Center for Biological Diversity and its partners, the Fish and Wildlife Service determined in September that protecting the species in the northern Rockies may be warranted based largely on new laws in Idaho and Montana that authorize the widespread killing of wolves.